On a snowy night at Monkswell Manor, newlyweds Mollie and Giles welcome a group of strangers to their guest house, only to discover news of a murderer in their midst! A police investigation reveals the sordid details of each guest’s mysterious past, but not soon enough to stop the killer from striking again. Agatha Christie’s masterful whodunit weaves an intricate plot filled with nerve-rattling suspense, all leading up to the ultimate final twist!
Production photos by Michael Brosilow.
Northlight catches all the guilty pleasures in The Mousetrap
By HEDY WEISS
Jonathan Berry is a hair-raisingly good director (recall Look Back in Anger at Redtwist, Golden Boy at Griffin, Festen at Steep and a slew of other productions). But I doubt I would have pegged him as the ideal person to stage a revival of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, that delicious whodunit of a murder mystery (with surprising psychological undertones) that is renowned as the world’s longest-running show. (The production in London’s West End has been playing for 62 years.)
Happily, Berry caught me in my own trap. His Northlight Theatre production is exceptionally smart, subtly dark and hilariously funny — and so supremely well cast and absolutely airtight in its unspooling that I not only chased the cheese all the way to the end, but heard the perfect little snap that proclaimed “case solved” …
I will say no more about any of this, aside from the fact that Christie wove her very twisted web with masterful skill, and Berry and his actors have embellished it brilliantly. And oh, yes, there is this: The Mousetrap is just tremendous fun.
Northlight’s Mousetrap is must-see murder and mayhem
By CATEY SULLIVAN
A dead body (or two), a blinding storm and a house full of eccentrics — one of whom is a murderer poised to strike again. It’s a killer combination, and one that plays out with intelligence, wit and terrific suspense in Northlight Theatre’s staging of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.
You may be tempted to sniff with disdain at the prospect of The Mousetrap. It’s been running for 62 years in London, where it is indeed a bonafide tourist trap. It’s also utterly formulaic: Isolate a group of colorful yet familiar types in an atmospheric old mansion, add in a dead body, and let the audience puzzle over whodunit.
But with Northlight’s production, director Jonathan Berry takes the tropes of the genre and invigorates them into a fresh, exciting thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat from lights up to curtain call.
Sights + Sounds: The Mousetrap
By BRIAN KIRST
Northlight Theatre has your nontraditional holiday celebrating covered this year. Their truly classy and fun production of Agatha Christie’s classic The Mouse Trap takes place on a wintery, snow swept night. But the chills produced here are, ultimately, not a result of the weather, but of the tense and eventually murderous theatrics.
One of the most popular plays ever produced, Christie’s mystery has run for 62 years on London’s West End. Not surprisingly, the show is full of multiple pleasures. Taking place on the opening day of a fledgling guest house, surprise soon becomes the name of the game. As newlywed owners Mollie and Giles try to cater to the whims of such clients as the youthfully odd Christopher, the charmingly aggressive Miss Casewell and the menacingly displeased Mrs Boyle, danger soon strikes. A handsome detective arrives, just as the entire group is snowed in, with news of a maniac on the loose. Soon, a life is taken and everyone else is either in danger or a possible suspect in the crime.
Nicely, despite a certain sense of formula, Christie creates characters with distinct emotional edges here, giving the audience a relatable stake in the proceedings. Working well within these characteristic layers, director Jonathan Berry eases out stellar performances from his exemplary cast. Berry, also, achieves a sense of warm tension throughout the evening. Thus, his choreography of the murder that ends the first act is simply done yet taut and haunting.
The Mousetrap at Northlight Theatre/Review
By TONY ADLER
Berry and an exquisitely cast bunch of actors walk a line between the script’s vast kitsch potential and Christie’s very real wit to create a lovingly subversive entertainment. Joe Dempsey, Laura T. Fisher, and Lindsey Pearlman, in particular, need to win something for their sly performances as a mysterious Italian, a dour retiree (“A lot of people don’t know they have dry rot”), and a red-lipped Vita Sackville-West type.
Northlight Theatre springs into Agatha Christie’s enduring mystery Mousetrap
By CATEY SULLIVAN
For Greg Matthew Anderson, Agatha Christie’s murderous thriller The Mousetrap is all about defying expectations.
The mystery is a masterstroke of a whodunit, a tale that laid the groundwork for everything from the “CSI” television series to the board game “Clue.”
As Detective Sergeant Trotter, Anderson is the show’s lynchpin, the catalyst for terror prowling among a deliciously intriguing clutch of suspects stranded one dark and stormy night in an isolated British manor. As a blinding snow and claustrophobic fear set in, Detective Trotter propels the action in a tale of murder, madness and diabolical deceit.
“What’s really fascinating about this play is you start out thinking you know these characters. They all seem like kind of tropes,” Anderson says. “Trotter seems kind of like Hercule Poirot, and you’re like, ‘OK, I know that guy.’ Then Christie begins ripping the rug out. You start to realize that all of these characters — you don’t know who any of them are really. It’s deeply unsettling.”
From murder to Madoff, 10 of fall’s best plays in the suburbs
By CATEY SULLIVAN
And finally, an oldie but a definite goodie from Northlight. Agatha Christie’s whodunit has been playing in London for an astonishing 62 years. Set in an English country guesthouse, it features a motley assortment of colorful suspects conveniently snowed in and unable to escape as a murderer is loose somewhere on the grounds. Jonathan Berry directs a procedural with a twist ending we wouldn’t dream of disclosing (and that savvy audiences should keep to themselves as well). Read more>
Greg Matthew Anderson
Detective Sergeant Trotter
Greg returns to Northlight Theatre where he previously appeared in The Mousetrap and Sense & Sensibility. Greg is an Artistic Associate at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company where credits include Power, The Best Man, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Night and Day, The Importance of Being Earnest, Chesapeake (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination), Northanger Abbey, An Inspector Calls and Travesties (Joseph Jefferson Award nomination). Chicago credits include Arcadia, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf (Writers), Rock ‘N Roll, the commercial production of Immediate Family (Goodman), Arcadia (Court), Sons of the Prophet, Oklahoma! (American Theater Company) and A Moment Alone (iO Theater). Television credits include Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Betrayal, The Playboy Club, Underemployed, The Chicago Code, Detroit 187 and the pilot Matadors. Film credits include Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Middle Distance, Game Day and Older Children. Greg is a graduate of Duke University’s Department of Theater Studies.
Patrick is delighted to return to Northlight where he was seen as Mr. Kirby in last season’s You Can’t Take It With You. His other Northlight appearances include The Mousetrap, The Miser, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Pride and Prejudice. He has appeared in more than 60 productions with Chicago area theatres including the Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Writers and Remy Bumppo. His regional credits include appearances at Hartford Stage, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Arena Stage, the Guthrie Theater, American Shakespeare Theatre, Centerstage, the Huntington Theatre and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He appeared on Broadway in Noises Off and Hollywood Arms. Film and Television credits include Empire, The Dark Knight, Chicago PD, Boss, The Untouchables and Early Edition.
Joey is excited to be performing at Northlight and is thrilled to be making a return to his home town and the Chicago stage after spending this last year as the lead in the Broadway First National Tour of Peter and the Starcatcher. Some Chicago credits: Punk Rock (Jeff Award Best Actor) and Flare Path (Griffin), South of Settling (Steppenwolf), Idomeneus (Sideshow) andCherrywood (Mary-Arrchie). Film: At Any Price (Sony Classic) and World’s Worst Musical (Verse Factory). A proud Equity member and ensemble member with Griffin, he is grateful to Jon for believing in him and Julie for supporting him. Joey is represented by Shirley Hamilton (Chicago) and CESD (NY, LA). www.joeydebettencourt.com
Joe returns to Northlight where he has appeared in The Mousetrap, Inherit the Wind, and All in the Timing. More recently, he acted in Twist Your Dickens (The Second City at Goodman), Blues Skies Process (Goodman), and West Side Story (Paramount). Around Chicago, he has also acted at Steppenwolf, Court, Lookingglass, Remy Bumppo, many others, and regionally at Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Centerstage (Baltimore), and City Theatre (Pittsburgh). TV credits include E.R., Early Edition, What about Joan?, and Chicago Fire. He is an alum of The Second City National Touring Company and the Neo-Futurists, writing and performing in their 28-year signature show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. RIP. He dedicates this show to his mother.
Laura T. Fisher
Laura is thrilled to make her Northlight debut. Recently, Laura appeared in Theater Wit’s Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England in Chicago and Las Vegas. Laura has performed at many local theatres including the Goodman, Court, Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens and Next, where she is an artistic associate. Laura has received a Joseph Jefferson and an After Dark award for her performance in Famous Door’s Early and Often, and Jeff nominations for Famous Door’sRemembrance and Hushabye Mountain, and Remy Bumppo’s The Secret Rapture. TV/Film work includesContagion, Jessica, Body(s) and Chicago Fire. Up next is Milwaukee Repertory’s Good People. Laura is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA, is represented by Grossman Jack Talent, and studies with Maryann Thebus.
Keith returns to Northlight after appearing last season in The Mousetrap. An ensemble member with Gift, he will appear in their upcoming production of Richard III. Previous productions with Gift include Othello and Night and Her Stars. Other recent Chicago credits include: Harry & the Thief, Breaks & Bikes, Girl You Know It’s True, punkplay, Fracture/Mechanics, Arrangements andLipstick Traces (Pavement Group); The Birds (Griffin); Travesties (Remy Bumppo); Seminar (Haven);Orange Flower Water (Interrobang); Sweet Confinement (SiNNERMAN); We Live Here and Yes, This Really Happened to Me (Theatre Seven); Sweet Bird of Youth (Artistic Home); The Pigeons (Walkabout); and Everything Freezes: another winter’s tale (Sideshow). Keith is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the School at Steppenwolf, and is represented by Actors Talent Group.
Lindsey is delighted to return to Northlight after understudying Sky Girls. She has been seen at A Red Orchid (Trevor), Gift (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot), Chicago Shakespeare (How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back, u/s), Theatre Wit (Two for the Show), Rivendell (Expecting Isabel and Self Defense), Polarity (Never the Bridesmaid – 2013 Jeff Award Recipient/Actress in a Principal Role) and others. In the spring of 2015 she will appear in Love, Loss, and What I Wore at First Folio. Lindsey is a proud graduate of The Second City Conservatory and is an Artistic Associate of Stage Left Theatre. www.lindseypearlman.com.
Cora Vander Broek
Cora is thrilled to be back at Northlight! Previous Northlight credits: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Pride and Prejudice. Other selected Chicago credits: Hank Williams: Lost Highway(American Blues); Luck of the Irish and Madagascar (Next); All My Sons (TimeLine); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Steppenwolf); Dead End (Griffin, Jeff Citation Nominee – Actress in a Supporting Role); and Book of Days (After Dark Award – Actress in a Principal Role) and The Seagull (Raven). Recent regional credits: In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play (Actors Theatre of Louisville and Milwaukee Repertory); Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Doubt, and A Christmas Carol (Indiana Repertory) and Heartbreak House (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks). Cora can be seen in the independent feature films Where We Started and in the upcoming Of Minor Prophets and Blur Circle. Cora is a graduate of the School of Steppenwolf and is represented by Big Mouth Talent.
Agatha Christie (1890-1976) is the author not only of The Mousetrap, the longest running stage production in history but also Witness for the Prosecution and And Then There Were None to name but a few of her greatest stage successes. Her novels have sold more than 2 billion copies around the world, and she is only outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare. Born in 1890, in Torquay, Devon, England, to an American father and English mother, she wrote her first play Black Coffee (the only play in which she chose to feature Poirot) in 1930 having been disappointed by the way The Murder of Roger Ackroyd had been adapted into Alibi in 1928. She adapted her bestselling novel And Then There Were None for stage in 1943, giving it a different ending, followed by, in quick succession, Appointment with Death (1945), Murder on the Nile (1946) and The Hollow (1951). With The Mousetrap (1952), Witness for the Prosecution (1953), and Spider’s Web (1954), she became the only female playwright to have three plays running in the West End at the same time. Later plays include Towards Zero (1956) co-adapted with Gerald Verner, Verdict (1958) possibly her most unusual play, Go Back for Murder (1960), and Rule of Three (1962) a series of three one act plays. After a hugely successful career and a wonderful life, Ms. Christie died peacefully in 1976.
Steep Theatre, Artistic Associate, productions include: If There is I Haven’t Found It Yet, The Knowledge, Festen, Moment, The Hollow Lands and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Griffin Theatre, Artistic Associate: Golden Boy,The Burnt Part Boys, Spring Awakening, Punk Rock (Jeff award – Director, Ensemble) Port, On the Shore of the Wide World,Company, Picnic, Time and the Conways (Jeff nomination – Director, Ensemble), Dead End, The Hostage and Journey’s End. Steppenwolf: A Separate Peace and the world premiere of Gary. Goodman: The World of Extreme Happiness and The Solid Sand Below. Roundabout (NY): Suicide, Incorporated. Other work includes Gift: Othello, Dirty and Suicide, Incorporated; Chicago Dramatists: I am Going to Change the World; RedTwist: Look Back in Anger, Reverb; Remy Bumppo: The Marriage of Figaro;Theatre Mir: The Sea and Caucasian Chalk Circle; Lifeline: The Piano Tuner (After Dark award – Best Production). He pursued his MFA in directing from Northwestern University. He has taught at University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Act One Studios, Columbia College and The School at Steppenwolf.
Jack most recently designed Discord and Mothers and Sons at Northlight. Recent Chicago and regional design credits include Other Than Honorable (Geva Theatre), Evita (Kansas City Rep), The Flick (Steppenwolf), Rapture Blister Burn (Goodman), The Who and The What (Lincoln Center Theatre-LCT3 and La Jolla Playhouse), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Court), East Texas Hot Links and The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers), South Pacific (Clarence Brown Theatre), Man of La Mancha and The Mousetrap (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre). Ten Jeff Award nominations include designs for The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers) and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Court). Upcoming projects include A Flea In Her Ear (American Players Theatre) and Fences (Kansas City Rep). Jack lives in Chicago and teaches design at The Theatre School at DePaul University. www.jackmagaw.com
Northlight: The Mousetrap, You Can’t Take It With You, Charm, Faceless, The Mother of the Maid, Mansfield Park, How A Boy Falls. Regional: Dishwasher Dreams (Writers Theatre, Hartford Stage), Fahrenheit 451 (Indiana Repartory Theatre); Million Dollar Quartet Christmas (Evan Bernardin Productions, The Phoenix Theatre Company); Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf Theatre); King of The Yees (Goodman Theatre, Kirk Douglas Theatre); Cambodian Rock Band (Victory Gardens Theater, City Theatre Company, Merrimack Repertory); The Who And The What (Milwaukee Rep); Animal Farm (Milwaukee Rep, Baltimore Center Stage); Other credits: Animal Farm, The Crucible, We Are Proud To Present…, The Constellations, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); An Issue Of Blood, The House That Will Not Stand, A Wonder In My Soul, If I Forget (Victory Gardens Theater); Smart People, A Doll’s House (Writers Theatre); Harvey, Titanic (Court Theatre). Affiliations: United Scenic Artists USA-829. Education: M.F.A. in Stage Design, Northwestern University.
Lee has designed lights for The House Theatre of Chicago (company member), Northlight, Lookingglass, Court, Next, 500 Clown, Silk Road Rising (Artistic Associate), Milwaukee Rep, Centerstage Baltimore, Kansas City Rep, Circle, Griffin, Bailiwick, Infamous Commonwealth, Buzz22, Theatre Seven of Chicago, Bailiwick Chicago, Steppenwolf SYA, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Short Shakes!, About Face Youth Theatre, The Building Stage, Apple Tree and Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. Lee’s scenic designs have been seen at Silk Road Rising, Collaboraction, Adventure Stage, Infamous Commonwealth and The Hypocrites. Lee is a Senior Lecturer at Loyola University Chicago and holds an MFA in Theatre Design from Northwestern University.
Rick has composed and designed sound for numerous Chicago-area theaters, including Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Congo Square theatre, Writers, Lifeline, Griffin, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Hypocrites, House, Court, ATC, Victory Gardens, Raven, Steep, Northlight and About Face. Regional credits include Arena Stage and Roundhouse Theatre in Washington D.C., Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, South Coast Rep in Southern California, The Getty, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia, Playwrights Horizons in New York City, Actors Theatre of Louisville and Portland Playhouse. Sims won a Jeff Award for sound design for Moby Dick and Hepheastus (Lookingglass), and a BTA award for Brothers In the Dust (Congo Square). He is an artistic associate of Lookingglass, and artistic affiliate with American Blues. Sims also wrote the book, music and lyrics for Hillbilly Antigone (Lookingglass).
Laura D. Glenn
Production Stage Manager
Over the past fourteen years with Northlight, production stage management credits include Outside Mullingar, The Mousetrap, Chapatti, The Whipping Man, The Odd Couple, Ten Chimneys, Season’s Greetings, Sense & Sensibility, A Life, Souvenir, Better Late (also at the Galway Arts Festival), Retreat from Moscow, Permanent Collection, Cat Feet, Blue/Orange, Tuesdays with Morrie, Sky Girls, Rounding Third and A Skull in Connemara. Other credits include stage management for Domesticated, Grand Concourse, The Qualms, Lord of the Flies, Slowgirl, Head of Passes, Three Sisters,Middletown, To Kill a Mockingbird, a parallelogram, Superior Donuts, Betrayal, Love Song, I Never Sang for my Father, The Violet Hour, Purple Heart, The Drawer Boy, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and many others at Steppenwolf over the past twenty-five years. International credits include Orange Flower Water and Purple Heart (Steppenwolf) at the Galway Arts Festival in Galway, Ireland; The Man Who Came to Dinner – BITE festival at the Barbican Center in London; and the regional and Broadway productions of Buried Child. Laura has been a proud member of Actors Equity Association for almost twenty-six years.